The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed June 4 for hearing in a case of alleged certificate forgery brought against former Benue Governor, Sen. George Akume.
The judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, fixed the date after hearing the submissions of counsel to parties in the suit. When the case came up on Tuesday, the plaintiff’s counsel informed the court that the matter was slated for hearing of a motion dated Oct. 5, 2013.
He, however, said that he had just discovered a few hours back that the second and fourth defendants had yet to be served with the said motion. He also said that all the defendants, except the second and fourth, had yet to be served with the counter-affidavit to the fifth defendant’s preliminary objection.
“In view of the circumstance, My Lord, we shall be asking for a short adjournment to enable us serve the second and fourth defendants (WAEC and IGP) with the said motion,’’ he said.
Counsel to other parties in the suit did not oppose to the request. The judge then ordered that hearing notices be issued and served on the parties who were yet to be served and adjourned hearing in the substantive suit to June 4.
Mr Phillip Agbese, an activist from Benue, had sued Akume in 2013, accusing him of forging the West African School Certificate (WAEC).
Joined in the suit are WAEC, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector General of Police and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) as 2nd to 5th defendants.
Agbese’s counsel, Amobi Nzelu, had urged the court to declare that the defendant was not the bona fide owner of certificate No SCO 39633 purportedly issued him by GSS Otukpo, Benue, in 1971.
The plaintiff also asked the court to declare that the WAEC result allegedly issued to Akume did not belong to him and that the defendant did not obtain any degree from the University of Ibadan as claimed.
Nzelu, in his written submission, prayed the court to declare that the documents Akume presented to INEC following which he was cleared to contest the Benue governorship election in 1999 and 2003 were forged.
He further asked for an order of the court to declare Akume’s Benue North-West senatorial seat vacant since he did not possess the requisite qualification to contest for the said position, ab initio.
The plaintiff’s counsel requested the court to order WAEC to produce the duplicate or certified true copy of the certificate purportedly issued to Akume.
He also asked the court to order the NYSC to produce the certified true copy of certificate No. 043655 issued to the defendant. The plaintiff, therefore, asked the court to grant an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Akume from parading himself as a senator representing Benue North-West senatorial district in the National Assembly.
However, Mr Sebastian Hon, SAN, Akume’s counsel, in his written submission before the court through via a statement of defence, denied all the plaintiff’s claims.
Hon said that although his client lost the original copies of his WAEC, Degree and NYSC certificates, he had collected the certified true copies of the said certificates from the issuing institutions.
Akume’s counsel further said that the said institutions had, thereby, confirmed the authenticity of his client’s certificates.
He urged the court to strike out the suit as lacking in merit as it was a smear campaign against his client. He, therefore, put the plaintiff to the strictest proof of the allegation against the senator.